Get ready to catch the eye of your favourite agent, at the right time
To me, September always has that new pencil case to feel. Forever tied in my mind to the academic calendar, this time of year promises the start of something. Not necessarily something new, but something positive and proactive. To go with that new pencil case ... how about, a new offer of representation?
Agents are busy people. You probably already know this. But there is busy and there is BUSY, so there are times of the year you might want to avoid if you're hoping to catch that perfect agent's eye. The summer holidays, Christmas, and the mayhem of London and Bologna book fairs, practically on top of one another, in the spring.
But, if you're reading this in September, we're hitting a sort-of sweet spot, timing-wise, so if you've had the time and headspace to finish your novel over the summer and are planning on querying, this is a good* time to go for it.
*as good as it's likely to get, anyway
This year (2022) Frankfurt book fair is running from the 19th to the 23rd of October, so you've got all of September at your disposal before agents are up to their bratwursts in the Buchmesse. Avoid the period before and after the fair, and then you've got a nice long run up until, I'd say, the first week of December. Then, let them be. It's Christmas, right?
So - you think you're ready to query?
Timing your query right is just one part of giving it the best chance of success. If you're thinking about hitting send, make sure your entire submission package is the best it can be. You (generally) only get one shot at querying a manuscript, so don't rush it - don't send it before it's ready. Literary agents receive thousands of queries each year but take on only a handful of new clients (usually single figures), and more and more people are querying, post lockdowns. Make your query as good as your book if you want to be seen!
I offer a full query assessment package where I will review:
your cover letter. Is it good enough to grab your dream agent's attention? Is it selling you and your work - I know, it's hard to think of yourself as a commodity, but you do need to big -up yourself as well as your words if you want to be seen
your synopsis. Not just for typos, I'll review your plot, characters, and development arcs for strength and commerciality
your opening pages. I'll consider: whether you're beginning your story in the right place, if your opening has a good hook, and if it's likely to leave a reader (aka an agent) wanting more
And in the meantime, here are my three best tips for attracting an agent's attention:
Personalise your cover letter. Take time to explain to the agent why you've chosen them - why they are not just a name on a list to you
In the synopsis, use ALL CAPS for character names the first time you introduce them and leave plenty of white space on the page - make your synopsis look effortless - like you had all the time/space in the world to tell your story because you know it so well, and it's so well structured
Follow the submission guidelines on the agency website. To. The. Letter.
If you're not sure about the solidity of your plot, you might want to consider my draft development services which include a plot review. I also offer a synopsis review on its own as I know how much writers struggle with these and, weird I know but, I actually love synopses so please, lemme at 'em!
Any questions about querying? Get in touch here
EmDashED. Simply click below and say hello
From EmDashED Freelance Novel Editing
Emma Read is a freelance editor, creative writing tutor, and author, specialising in children's fiction from chapter books to YA.
She has many years of experience reading and critiquing fiction as a mentor, tutor, and longlist judge for both the Bath Children's Novel Award and the Write Mentor Children's Novel Award, as well as working with traditionally published and self-published authors, and publishers.
Get in touch at emdashed.com or on social media: